This column could turn out to be famous last words. If the coming games don’t go well, this take will age as well as a piece of bread.
But there could be a bright side to Sacramento Republic’s 1-0 loss to Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday.
The loss was just the second of the season for Sacramento — strangely, both losses have come against MLS2 teams — but after clinching a playoff place Republic FC appear to have eased up a bit on the gas pedal. It’s probably subconscious, but a small slump before the playoffs doesn’t seem great, right?
Again, if the playoff game coming up doesn’t go well, that could turn out to be the case in hindsight. But the flip side is if Sac Republic can turn up the intensity and most importantly, get a result in the postseason, then Wednesday’s loss is not catastrophic.
Three ways the loss may have been good, actually:
Timing could be fine
If you’re going to lose in the coming games, Wednesday’s was the game to pick. Not only is it not relevant to the playoff race or seeding, but it’s one of the only games on the schedule that to an extent is less important in a sense than the usual regular-season game. And it’s better to draw a blank in your second-to-last regular season game, on the expectation of finishing the string strong before heading into the playoffs.
If anything, losing in the penultimate game of the regular season might be just what Sac Republic needs to recalibrate. They had been on a run of three draws prior to the loss, but a defeat may offer a kick in the pants the team needs, at just the right time. Again, no guarantee, but it’s better to have a “scare” now then to get sent packing in the first playoff game, right?
Giving players a chance
I spoke with Connor Sutton, host of the club’s The Breakaway: A Sac Republic Podcast Thursday for a new episode (out soon!), and I hope he does not mind if I pre-empt a good point he made on the show — games like Wednesday’s give players a chance to prove themselves for the playoff squad. While I was surprised to see how much squad rotation Mark Briggs did for the game, Connor made the point that it was an opportunity for the likes of Julian Chavez, Rafael Jauregui, Matt Mahoney, Frank Lopez and others to make a case for more playing time, which is true. Did they make the case? Maybe, maybe not, and we’ll see what Briggs does in the coming games. But as one of the only “free hit” games of the season, the game against Tacoma did give Briggs a chance to make big changes and see who might sink or swim in the moment, and hopefully he’s learned something from it.
So Sacramento didn’t get any points out of the game in Tacoma, but did they get what they needed to in the larger picture? Again, time will tell, but I’m not yet ready to raise alarm bells over this one result. We’ll see if that optimism bears out.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.